In one of the classiest moves I've ever seen from an athlete that's run afoul of the law, Klay Thompson took the microphone at Beasley Coliseum just moments before Saturday's tip-off and apologized to the team and its fans. Thompson, you'll recall, was stopped on Thursday night, just a short time after Washington State's win over USC in Pullman, and cited for possession of marijuana. Head coach Ken Bone suspended Thompson indefinitely following the incident, leaving the Cougars short-handed in their final regular season game against the UCLA Bruins on Saturday afternoon.
Thompson made a mistake and he knows it. He didn't just let the team down -- leaving them in a bad spot as the Cougs fight for an NCAA tournament berth -- he let the fans down. Kids look up to Klay, like it or not. And the example that he set was an incredibly poor one.
But instead of shrinking away and hiding, Thompson owned it. He's sitting on the bench -- and the FSN cameras will, no doubt, pan to him throughout the game -- supporting his team. And with tears in his eyes he took responsibility for his actions and the mistake he made.
Part of the reason why his arrest was so frustrating was the unexpected nature of it all. From all indications, Thompson has been a high character, lead by example type player at WSU. He speaks softly and keeps his nose clean. He's been an example and the key for this program over the last two years as it tries to rebuild.
So when I opened my phone and saw voicemails, text messages and emails saying he'd been arrested for marijuana possession, I didn't want to believe it. Not Klay and especially not now. I was unbelievably disappointed, but I wasn't even mad; just let down.
He screwed up. He knows he screwed up and did so at one of the worst possible times. The way he handled it shows more about his character than the arrest itself did. It takes a man, and a man of incredibly high character, to address the crowd in Pullman and take full responsibility. Most of all, it takes a man to apologize, and do so sincerely while fighting back tears.
Thank you, Klay. We appreciate it more than you probably realize.